Blasphemy laws: what does the Quran say? — by Dr Mohammad Taqi

by admin


It is a travesty of justice that a verse dealing with war, sedition and rebellion is invoked to punish what may not even qualify as theocratic or religious dissent. In fact, Article 295 is not just a travesty of justice, it is an iftira (slander) against the Almighty and Prophet (PBUH) as it attributes to them what they never mandated

“Haq jalwagar ze tarz-e-bayan-e-Mohammad [PBUH] hast,

Aaray kalam-e-Haq ba zuba-e-Mohammad [PBUH] hast,

Ghalib sana-e-Khwaja ba Yazdan guzashtaim,

K’aan zaat-e-Paak martaba-daan-e-Mohammad [PBUH] hast” — Ghalib.

“The Truth expresses its grace through Mohammad’s [PBUH] expression,

Indeed the Truth speaks through Mohammad’s [PBUH] word,

Ghalib, therefore, I leave Mohammad’s [PBUH] praise to God,

Almighty alone can understand the exalted status of Mohammad [PBUH].”

While the Lahore High Court (LHC) is restraining the president from pardoning Aasia Bibi in a blasphemy case and a federal minister has vowed to not allow any change in the blasphemy laws, why do I quote Ghalib’s praise for the Holy Prophet Mohammad (PBUH)? For starters, Ghalib remains one of the foremost secularists that the Indian subcontinent has ever produced and this na’at (hymn) — perhaps amongst the finest written in any language — goes to show that it is perfectly alright for the secularists to occasionally talk about matters of faith, including their own faith. In fact, it is imperative to do so when a fog of confusion is deliberately created around faith by bigots of all shades.

Moreover, the Holy Quran and Sunnah, ostensibly, form the premise of Article 295 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) and, without revisiting what they actually say about blasphemy, the only challenge that might be successful against this law would be to have its procedural aspects modified. The Quran and Sunnah indeed are the two material sources of the shariah law, but were eventually supplemented by a corpus of interpretation largely agreed upon by a majority of Muslim scholars (ijma) and deductive analogy (qiyas) to form the basis of Islamic jurisprudence.

In the first quoted verse, Ghalib is referring to the Holy Quran, which states: “That this (Quran) is indeed the speech of an illustrious messenger” (69:40). Ghalib’s last verse, of course, is the crux of a Sufi’s faith and, once again, alludes to the passages in the Quran where the Almighty showers praise on Mohammad (PBUH). I would point to one such verse: “Verily! We have seen the turning of your (Mohammad’s) face towards the heaven. Surely, We shall turn you to a Qiblah (prayer direction) that shall please you, so turn your face in the direction of Al-Masjid-al-Haram” (2:144). This is a unique verse; while the Quran and other holy books speak to what humans, including the prophets, must do to earn the pleasure (raza) of the Almighty, here Allah is doing something purely to earn the pleasure or raza of His Prophet (PBUH).

So is it possible then, that the Almighty, who has thus exalted the status of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), left us without any guidance on how to deal with speech or actions that attempt to disparage him? Could the Quran be silent on a matter of such grave importance? Have we been left to rely on the ijma and qiyas of the clerics who came some two centuries after the Prophet (PBUH)? Indeed not, but that is something that the ones after a poor woman’s scalp would have us believe. Let us consider Surah Al-Ahzab, verse 57:

“Lo! those who malign Allah and His messenger, Allah hath cursed them in the world and the Hereafter, and hath prepared for them the doom of the disdained.”

The Quran also mentions the most important case of blasphemy ever committed against Mohammad (PBUH). The Quran says in Surah Al-Massad:

“The power of Abu Lahab will perish, and he will perish. His wealth and gains will not exempt him. He will be plunged in flaming fire. And his wife, the wood-carrier, will have upon her neck a halter of palm-fibre.”

The common theme between the verses noted above is that, while the highest condemnation has been heaped on anyone reviling or attempting to revile the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and eternal damnation promised for the perpetrator, neither a direct order (amr) has been given to impart a punishment nor a set punishment prescribed — not even for Abu Lahab!

Let us also consider the Arabic terms used to describe blasphemy against God and the Prophet (PBUH). The Arabic words sabba (abuse, insult) and shatm (vilification) denote blasphemy and have been adopted in Persian and Urdu as well. It must be stated that the word shatm does not occur in the Quran at all while a derivative of sabba is used only in one verse and that too to proscribe the Muslims from hurling sabba on other people’s gods and deities (Chapter 6:108).

So where then are punishments like death or chopping limbs for blasphemy coming from? Usually, anecdotal reports are cited from the Hadith where the Prophet (PBUH) allegedly condoned the death or punishing of a blasphemer. However, for each such incident — usually reported on weak authority — there are two others where the Prophet (PBUH) tolerated and indeed pardoned insults against him. Not a single incident can be cited from the Sirah traditions where charges of blasphemy were filed, a trial held and the punishment meted out. Almost all proponents of severe or capital punishment for blasphemy, therefore, quote verse 33 of Surah Al-Maidah, in support of their argument:

“The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter.”

It is a travesty of justice that a verse dealing with war, sedition and rebellion is invoked to punish what may not even qualify as theocratic or religious dissent. In fact, Article 295 is not just a travesty of justice, it is an iftira (slander) against the Almighty and Prophet (PBUH) as it attributes to them what they never mandated. The presidential pardon is most commendable in the current case and procedural changes to the blasphemy laws would be welcome.

However, Article 295 is repugnant to the Quran and Sunnah and, as long as it remains on the books, it will be a direct negation of the verse “Wama arsalnaka illa Rehmatan-lil-alameen” (We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all creatures — 21:107). By not prescribing harsh penalties, the Almighty prevented this exalted status of Mohammad (PBUH) from being undermined; Ghalib was spot-on.

The writer can be reached at mazdaki@me.com

http://dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2010122story_2-12-2010_pg3_2

9 Comments to “Blasphemy laws: what does the Quran say? — by Dr Mohammad Taqi”

  1. Very nice article to read. Enjoyed it a lot

  2. Spot on. Now explain that to a Maulvi. Sigh.

  3. Nice article,
    Can you brief little more what Holy Quran says about Blasphemy law is it mention in Quran that one should be hang to death for Blasphemy?

  4. Come to think of it, Allah is mentioned in the beginning of all Surahs of Quran (save one) as being Al-Rehmaan and Al-Raheem. Despite this, there are numerous Ayats of Quran that mention the Azzab of Allah.
    Will you call this a direct negation also?
    Just because our Prophet (SAW) is Rehmat-ul-Lil-Aalameen does not mean that we do away with this law because it is very harsh.
    The more love you have for a person, the more you will go out of your way to protect them. As it is one of the requirements of Imaan that we need to love our Prophet (SAW) more than our parents, children, wealth, health and indeed ourselves, for our Imaan to be Kaamil (complete).
    I would like to quote Allama Iqbal here…
    NARM DAM-E-GUFTAGOO, GARM DAM-E-JUSTAJOO
    and
    Jis say Jigar-e-Lala main Thandak ho wo Shabnam
    Daryaoon kay dil jis say dehl jain wo toofaan

    You need to develop both sides to be good, if you are too soft, you will have people walking all over you, and if you are too hard, you will break. We have the best example in the Uswah-e-Rasool (SAW) and from his life, we know that severe punishments (without involving a court) were given out to those who insulted him, during his life only. So that makes it his sunnah.

  5. Somaiya: sister if u dont have any proof from quran or sunnah , then please keep your ignorant remarks to urself.. and stop spreading your hate around…Islam: PEACE..
    its people like you who bring a bad ame and shame to my religion .

    dr.sahib its a brilliant article . solid , with refrences… no need to read these people who listen to their jaahil movi’s…angry mob

  6. ye ulimaa sirf baatil pe muttafiq hotay han, Haq par nai. Yahan par bhi same situation hai. Allah ne sirf 2 crimes ki punishment qatal rakhi hai, 1 qatl-e-amad, aur 2 Fasaad fil-arz. Agar blosophamy ki ka lafz bhi Allh add kar deta to koi problem nai thi, magar wo jaanta hai k kon kon se crimes qabl-e-saza han aur kon se nai. Lekn ulimaa k khiaal main Khuda ko shaaid es baat ka ilm nai tha, our in ko ilm ho gia kih k 1 3rd crime bhi hai jis ki sza qatal honi chahiay. Morover kisi saheeh rwaait main bhi es jurm ki sza qatal ka hukam nai dia gia. Bulkih es ko bhi chorain, Imam Abu Hanifa jin ki ye sari qaum Muqallid honay ka daawa karti hai, onhon ne to ye kaha hai kih, “Zimmi ko Ihaanat ki wajah se qatal nai kia jaa sakta q k wo to pehlay he shirk kar chukay han jo k is se bara gunah hai”.

    Lihaza es baar bhi hasb-e-mamool ye ulimaa baatil pe muttafiq han.

  7. Q. Lekn maen ne suna hai ki Fuqhaa k nazdeek Blosophamy ki sza qatal hai… ?
    Ans. G aap ne sahi suna hai, magar asal hqaaiq kia hain es k peechay ye ulimaa danista tor pe aap ko nai btatay. Allah in ko zaroor poochay ga.
    Imam Abu hanifa ka qaul to aap ne sun lia, ab main aap ko btata hoon ki DEEGAR fuqhaa k nazdeek “blosophamy ki sza qatal” k maani kia han.
    Asal main Foqha k nazdeek Murtad ki sza qatal hai, aour jo Muslim toheen-e-Risalat karta hai wo on k nazdeek murtad ho jaata hai, es liay os ko bhi qatal kia jaae ga. Aur in dono main bara farq hai.Yani 1. Ihanat karne walay ko qatal karna; aur 2. Ihaanat wala Choon k murtad ho gia hai es liay os ko qatal karna. Agar baat aap par wazih nai hui to hum aap ko btaain gay k en maen kia farq hai

  8. ye ulimaa sirf baatil pe muttafiq hotay han, Haq par nai. Yahan par bhi same situation hai. Allah ne sirf 2 crimes ki punishment qatal rakhi hai, 1 qatl-e-amad, aur 2 Fasaad fil-arz. Agar blosophamy ki ka lafz bhi Allh add kar deta to koi problem nai thi, magar wo jaanta hai k kon kon se crimes qabl-e-saza han aur kon se nai. Lekn ulimaa k khiaal main Khuda ko shaaid es baat ka ilm nai tha, our in ko ilm ho gia kih k 1 3rd crime bhi hai jis ki sza qatal honi chahiay. Morover kisi saheeh rwaait main bhi es jurm ki sza qatal ka hukam nai dia gia. Bulkih es ko bhi chorain, Imam Abu Hanifa jin ki ye sari qaum Muqallid honay ka daawa karti hai, onhon ne to ye kaha hai kih, “Zimmi ko Ihaanat ki wajah se qatal nai kia jaa sakta q k wo to pehlay he shirk kar chukay han jo k is se bara gunah hai”.

    Q. Lekn maen ne suna hai ki Fuqhaa k nazdeek Blosophamy ki sza qatal hai… ?
    Ans. G aap ne sahi suna hai, magar asal hqaaiq kia hain es k peechay ye ulimaa danista tor pe aap ko nai btatay. Allah in ko zaroor poochay ga.
    Imam Abu hanifa ka qaul to aap ne sun lia, ab main aap ko btata hoon ki DEEGAR fuqhaa k nazdeek “blosophamy ki sza qatal” k maani kia han.
    Asal main Foqha k nazdeek Murtad ki sza qatal hai, aour jo Muslim toheen-e-Risalat karta hai wo on k nazdeek murtad ho jaata hai, es liay os ko bhi qatal kia jaae ga. Aur in dono main bara farq hai.Yani 1. Ihanat karne walay ko qatal karna; aur 2. Ihaanat wala Choon k murtad ho gia hai es liay os ko qatal karna. Agar baat aap par wazih nai hui to hum aap ko btaain gay k en maen kia farq hai

    Lihaza es baar bhi hasb-e-mamool ye ulimaa baatil pe muttafiq han.
    ab zra aagay suniay k Fuqhaa k nazdeek Murtad ko sza di kaise jaae gi.. Deen se phirne walay ko 3 din ki mohlat di jaae gi kih wo apne iqrar-e-kufar se wapis phir jaae, aur es doraan baaqaaida os ko samjhaaia jaaie ga, agar phir bhi wo baaz na aae to os k qatal k baray main decesion lia jaae ga.
    Magar Rana sahb, aap ne abhi tak 1 baat pe ghor nai kia, aur wo ye k Murtad ki sza main asal ahmiyat Mulzam k iqrar ko hasil ho gi, alzam ko nai. Yani alzam lgnay k baad mulzim iqrar-e-eman karta hai to wo bariuzzimah ho jata hai.
    Magar ulimaa k Mutabiq to iqrar ki koi ahmiyat nai rehti! Kia yahi situation nai hai Aasia bibi k case ki?
    Yani agar ye qanoon Fuqhaa Ikram ki raai k mutabiq bhi bnaaia jaae to es ka ittelaq Musalms pe ho ga.
    Isi tnazar main albatta deegar fuqhaa ne kaha hai k agar koi ghair muslim Ihanat ka jurm karta hai aur phir wo baar baar Israr k saath karta hai to phir os ko qatal karne k baaray maen socha jaae ga.
    Magar hm,aaray Ulimaa ne Islam ka (maazallah) bhianak naqsha pesh kia hai. Ab aap faisla kar leejiay k hmaaray muaashray ka nasoor kon hai?

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